In what ways was the credo “cuius regio, eius religio” (‘whose realm, his religion’) challenged in the sixteenth century?

The Latin adage ‘cuius regio, eius religio’, which translates as ‘whose realm, his religion’, suggests that it was the religion of the ruler that determined the faith of the inhabitants of a kingdom. However, it is commonly known that periods in English history, such as the sixteenth century, offered turbulent times in politics and religion, with the country frequently changing hands, and as a result, its faith. The sixteenth century in England, dominated by the infamous Tudor dynasty, was notoriously a period filled with religious unsettlement following Henry VIII’s break with Rome. Other monarchs of the sixteenth century, notably his children, force the realm into religious turmoil as they fluctuate between staunch Catholicism, aggressive Protestantism and the contrastingly liberal and refreshing strategy taken by Elizabeth I, which will be discussed further. With faith supposedly a characteristic which a person maintains from birth to death, it is improbable that those generations which survived multiple monarchs would have consistently observed every religious change. This study will analyse the extent to which the credo, ‘cuius regio, eius religio’, was adhered to, and in what ways it may have been challenged. The essay will take a chronological approach, as opposed to thematic, in order to allow for a full and cohesive exploration of each monarch’s impact on the religion of the realm.

The first 16th Century monarch that this study will look at is Henry VIII, who was revolutionary in terms of securing significant religious change in his 38 years on the throne. Henry VIII’s characteristic impatience meant that in late 1530, following four frustrating years of desiring Anne Boleyn and having been refused a divorce since early 1527, he began to seek alternative methods of gaining sacred blessing for his separation from Catherine of Aragon.[1] Inspired by the principles of Thomas Cranmer and Edward Foxe in the Collectanea Satis Copiosa, Henry defended the concept of royal supremacy which would put him, as the King of England, outside of the jurisdiction of the Pope.[2] Henry, also, legally and financially separated his realm from Rome in the Act for the Submission of the Clergy and Restraint of Appeals, 1534, which denied people the right to an authority outside of their country, and the Act Restraining the Payment of Annates and Concerning the Election of Bishops, 1534, which stopped payments to Rome.[3] Furthermore, he removed papal powers in England and Wales via the Act of Supremacy, 1534, demonstrating that he had the power to change the religion of the realm at will.[4]

Whilst Henry did sway the religion of the whole country, it is arguable that this is not due to his position as leader of the realm granting him dictatorial power over the faith of his subjects, but because of the resources that his station offered to him, enabling him a unique position from which he could influence popular beliefs through other means. As King, Henry sought to assert his own royal supremacy, however in order to achieve this most effectively, he had to denounce the authority of his greatest opponent, the Pope. G. W. Bernard states that it is clear that as early as 1527 Henry begins to challenge the legitimacy of papal authority; he used his position to gain support from ‘university theologians and canon lawyers…in a sense to qualify the plenitude of papal power’.[5] Similarly, Henry had to embark upon a campaign which besmirched the reputation of the monks and nuns of the monasteries before he built a strong enough case for their dissolution. Commissioners sent to visit the institutions and report back found evidence of gambling, promiscuity and homosexuality, which resulted in many monasteries being destroyed and their wealth reaped by the King.[6] To clarify, Henry’s rule did not dictate which religion was followed by those in his realm, but, allowed him the resources with which to influence religious belief.

Henry evidently also had to battle to claim royal supremacy, suggesting that religion was in some ways viewed as more superior, and it was he who was dictated to by religion and not vice versa. In addition, the level of resistance and opposition Henry met in the form of violent rebellion from his subjects suggests that he had not influenced their faith, but had simply disturbed their ability to practice it. Individuals such as ‘Bishop John Fisher, Thomas More and several monks and friars’ had refused to accept Henry’s ultimate authority, though, it was not until late 1536 that Henry was met with an organised opposition, The Pilgrimage of Grace.[7] Henry was, however, able to easily quash conflict due to his position as king and support from patriotic supporters.[8]  During the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century, it immediately appears that his realm had to follow whichever religion Henry chose to follow, since he held legal authority over such business. However, it is clear that ‘cuius regio, eius religio’ was indeed challenged. There existed little blind following of Henry’s move away from Roman Catholicism, instead the King had to work hard to persuade and motivate religious change across the country, using the intelligence and power available to him. He was also challenged, if only somewhat, in terms of popular risings. The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Lancashire Risings both demonstrated to Henry that he did not hold supremacy in the eyes of all of his subjects.

Edward VI experienced similar challenges to his authority during his short reign between 1547 and 1553. For the first time in English history, under Edward VI’s reign, Protestantism was almost completely established; this marks a huge turning point in religious history, perhaps even more so than the changes implemented by his father before him, due to Henry’s sudden about turn in the waning years of his life. Edward introduced a Puritan-influenced Prayer Book in 1549 which was published in English, allowing his subjects to worship in their own language.[9] Under his rule, there was also an act established to remove age old traditions regarding the marriage of priests, which was likely influenced by the Reformation in Germany and the growth of Lutheranism.[10] Unlike Henry VIII, Edward experienced exacerbated challenges to his supremacy due to his age. Raised and educated as a Protestant, Edward was closely advised by Archbishop Cranmer and Lord Protector Somerset. With a powerful few at his side and at such an impressionable and vulnerable age, the question arises as to whether Edward had any influence over the drastic reforms to the religion of the realm which were made in his name; Jennifer Loach states that ‘the history of his reign must therefore be the history of those who ruled in his name’.[11] Very shortly after Henry VIII died, Edward Seymour established himself as Lord Protector of his nephew Edward VI; T. A. Morris describes his seizure of and time in power as ‘autocratic’.[12] Moreover, Seymour’s successor, John Dudley, ‘amplified’ the ‘Protestant elements in his religious policy’. [13] Not insignificantly, this included support for Archbishop Cranmer’s ‘Forty-Two Articles’ which G. L. Bray considers the ‘most advanced systemization of Protestant theology then in existence anywhere in the world’.[14] This would suggest that between 1547 and 1553, the Latin adage ‘cuius regio, eius religio’ was entirely challenged, since it was in fact the religion of Edward’s advisors that dictated that of the country.

Edward’s religious authority was also diminished by the rebellions of 1549. These rebellions, such as the Western rebellion, made clear religious demands, which A. Wood states focus on ‘the reinstitution of the Henrician settlement rather than the wholesale return to Catholicism.’[15] This demand may be viewed as a popular rejection of the authority of the King and his council. Since, the rebels are not seeking a return to Catholicism, they are simply seeking a reversal of laws passed under the boy king. Alternatively, and more probably, the demands could be perceived as a rejection of the religion of the King in a defiant act of heresy due to the extreme and alien measures that were passed during Edward’s reign, including permitting the marriage of clergy. In this case, the decisions made by the King regarding religion do not dictate popular faith in practice. However, the subsequent execution of Robert Kett once again proves that the King has the resources at his disposal to form a legal basis for his chosen religion, whether or not this affects that which his subjects truly believe.

Upon the death of King Edward VI in 1553, the Tudor dynasty was put to the test as both of the remaining heirs to the throne were female; at this point there existed little threat from any potential Scottish heir since Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, was both female and merely ten years of age. Mary Tudor, the next English monarch, faced many challenges to her authority as ruler, due to her gender. At this point, her realm was unfamiliar with female rule and unsure of their expectations for her; historian David Loades states that these difficulties arise from the expectation of her position as a ‘surrogate male’ conflicting with ‘the traditional limitations of her sex’.[16] Most notably, with papal authority eradicated in England and the monarch instated as head of the Church, was it possible that Mary’s subjects could appreciate a woman as Supreme Head of the Church of England.  Loades notes that whilst not the most popular belief ‘John Knox was not alone believing that the rule of women over men was unnatural’.[17] Mary’s image as the ‘helpless virgin’ was the making of her success as Queen, however, dampened her ability to exercise power though not necessarily to influence religion.[18] From the moment of her accession, Mary began dismantling the religious reforms put into place by her father and brother. In a set of legislation known as the Marian Injunctions of 1554, Mary successfully eradicated all laws which affected England’s relationship with Rome, including Royal Supremacy and anti-Papal legislation.[19] This again demonstrates the legal authority of the monarchs of the period, and their ability to influence religious practices in this way.

If Mary had begun reversing all Protestant legislation as early as her proclamation as Queen in July 1553, so did the Marian exiles begin to flee in the August of the same year and the ‘great movement’ to Germany began a mere four months later.[20] The most common understanding of these exiles states that they were ‘protestants, forced solely for the sake of their religion to take refuge abroad from the persecution of a bigoted and cruel queen’.[21] Christina Hollowell Garrett, who hails herself as the first historian of the Marian exiles since 1574, states that from John Foxe to Heylyn, Burnet and other ‘irresponsible’ contemporary Englishmen, the number of Marian exiles varies between 300 to over 1000.[22] When considering even a conservative 300 exiles, it is still evident that Protestantism was not at all eradicated in England despite any number of injunctions that Mary put into place. Instead, it is clear that people would prefer to maintain their faith and abandon their country. Furthermore, in some cases it is demonstrated that Mary’s subjects would prefer to lose their life than allow the monarch to dictate their religion. Mary’s policy of terror led to the deaths of more than 300 ‘humble and gentle’ Protestants, either in prison or savagely burned at the stake.[23] David Loades suggests that her ‘biggest mistake had been to make a martyr out of Thomas Cranmer’, because this contradicted her otherwise docile, pious and virginal image that had earned the support of her subjects.[24] Therefore, it is fair to propose that any influence Mary Tudor had over the religious beliefs of the inhabitants of her realm were based primarily on fear of death and absolutely not her respected authority.

The last Tudor monarch was Elizabeth I, remembered as the Virgin Queen who led her realm through its Golden Era. Specifically, Elizabeth is praised for offering a sense of stability in terms of her religious policy, contrary to those immediately before her; she was revolutionary in offering a breakthrough in religious tolerance which ultimately defined her reign. Elizabeth certainly handled religious policy much more carefully than her sister, offering a combination of both Catholic and Protestant doctrine as a solution to the debate. G. L. Bray suggests that she was forced to ‘tread warily’ in the early days of her reign since the bishops were largely Catholics appointed in the reign of Mary.[25] Elizabeth set out to placate and appease clergy and laymen alike, beginning by instating herself as Supreme Governor of the Church of England in the Act of Supremacy, 1559; note that the subtle change in language from Henry VIII’s ‘Supreme Head’ allowed those who did not support female rule to still perceive the Pope as the ultimate religious authority.[26] Furthermore, subtle revocations of Mary’s anti-Protestant legislation, such as reforms to the Prayer Book and use of Latin, reflected Elizabeth’s personal religious preferences.[27] This brings to question whether the latter half of the sixteenth century in England truly abided by the credo ‘cuius regio, eius religio’, or whether the Elizabethan Religious Settlement was simply so intrinsically ambiguous that religious practices across the realm in reality were insignificant.

Controversially, perhaps, historian Patrick Collinson describes Elizabeth and her advisers as the ‘front and rear legs of a pantomime horse’ as the Elizabethan Religious Settlement came into being; he states that the two parties are inseparable in terms of determining who shaped it.[28] It is possible that the religion of the realm at this point was shaped largely by government policy, and not merely the Queen. Regardless of who formed religious policy, however, parts of the Elizabethan realm remained unsettled. A Catholic Queen in Scotland, Mary Stuart, had won the hearts of some Englishmen and the Northern Rebellion of 1569 can in part be attributed to her providing a figurehead.[29] Led by the Earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland, Mass was restored in Durham Cathedral alongside systematic destructions of Bibles and Prayer Books.[30] From 1569 onwards, Elizabeth was forced to put more pressure on heretics, imposing greater fines on recusants and declaring it treason for Catholic priests to enter England, where before she had showed tolerance.[31] This again illustrates how the credo ‘whose realm, his religion’ was challenged in the sixteenth century since monarchs were primarily forced to use legal action in order to achieve religious compliance.

To conclude, it is evident that whilst the religion of the ruler did to some extent determine to faith of the inhabitants of his realm, it certainly impacted greatly upon the religious practices that could be performed openly. From the introduction of English Prayer Books in 1549 to the compulsory attendance of Protestant services under the Elizabethan Injunctions of 1559, legally England experienced turbulence in terms of religious policy under the law in the sixteenth century. As a result, there were many challenges to the Latin credo ‘cuius regio, eius religio’ ranging from Thomas Cranmer sacrificing his own life to the mass migration of Protestants to Germany and France in 1553, alongside popular revolts and rebellions against the rulings of the crown evident within the reign of every Tudor monarch.

[1] C. Haigh, English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society Under the Tudors, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p.105.

[2] Ibid.

[3] ‘Act for the Submission of the Clergy and Restraint of Appeals’, 1534, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), pp.84-87.

‘Act Restraining the Payment of Annates and Concerning the Election of Bishops’, 1534, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), pp.88-93.

[4] ‘Act of Supremacy’, 1534, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), pp.113-114.

[5] G. W. Bernard, The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), p.26.

[6] C. Haigh, The Last Days of the Lancashire Monasteries and the Pilgrimage of Grace, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1969), pp.21-24.

[7] Bernard, The King’s Reformation, p.293.

[8] R. W. Hoyle, The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p.11.

[9] ‘The Preface to the Book of Common Prayer’, 1549, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), pp.272-276.

[10] ‘Act to take away all Positive Laws against the Marriage of Priests’, 1549, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), pp.279-280.

[11] J. Loach, Edward VI, (Suffolk: St Edmundsbury Press, 2002) p, 39.

[12] T. A. Morris, Europe and England in the Sixteenth Century, (London: Routledge, 1998), pp.233-234.

[13] Ibid.

[14] ‘The Forty-Two Articles’, 1553, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), pp.284-312.

[15] A. Wood, The 1549 Rebellions and the Making of Early Modern England, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 45.

[16] D. M. Loades, Tudor Queens of England, (London: Continuum Books, 2009), p.3.

[17] Ibid., p.8.

[18] Ibid.

[19] ‘The Marian Injunctions’, 1554, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994),  pp.315-317.

[20] C. H. Garrett, The Marian Exiles: A Study in the Origins of Elizabethan Puritanism, (London: Cambridge University Press, 1966), pp.2-3.

[21] Ibid., p.1.

[22] Ibid., pp.30-31.

[23] Loades, Tudor Queens, p.206.

[24] Ibid.

[25] G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), p.318.

[26] ‘Act of Supremacy’, 1559, in G. L. Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526-1701, (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1994), pp.318-328.

[27] S. Doran, Elizabeth I and Religion 1558-1603, (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp.15-16.

[28] P. Collinson, Elizabethans, (London: Hambledon and London, 2003), p.39.

[29] S. Arman, et al., Reformation and Rebellion 1485-1750, (Oxford : Heinemann, 2002), p.89.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

Catching the Clergy in the Act

In around 1535 (following Henry VIII’s break from Rome and marriage to his second wife, Anne Boleyn, but before he relieved her of the burden that was her head), Henry was in desperate need of cash.

In a continuation of his attack on Roman Catholicism, Henry launched a campaign against the monasteries which would result in their dissolution. It was not enough, simply to  take the belongings of the smaller monasteries. In order to gain the quantity of wealth that he required, Henry had to build a strong and infallible campaign, designed to destroy the reputation of the clergy within and further his break with Rome.

Visitations of these establishments began in the summer of 1535 and lasted over a year in some cases. Determined to besmirch the characters of those within, the commissioners attacked everything with which they could pick fault in their reports. These ranged from complaints regarding the relics and image worship within the monasteries to claims of sordid, ungodly acts going on within the confines of supposedly holy grounds.

One of my favourite quotes from Richard Layton at the Syon Abbey discusses the Bishop…

‘[The Bishop] persuaded one of his lay breathen, a smith, to have made a key for the door, to have in the night-time received in wenches for him and his fellow and especially a wife of Uxbridge… he was desirous to have had her conveyed in to him. The said Bishop also persuaded a nun, to whom he was confessor, to submit her body to his pleasure, and thus he persuaded her in confession, making her believe that whensoever and as oft as they should meddle together, if she were immediately after confessed by him, and took of him absolution, she should be clear forgiven of God…


Visitation and Surrender of Syon Nunnery to the Commissioners

Claims of gambling, drinking, homosexuality and blatant promiscuity filled many of the reports regarding the monks and nuns in question. Whilst some of the reports found the monasteries in perfect order, the work of an overenthusiastic few saw the monasteries liquidated into the pockets of Henry VIII.


Biland Monastery

What caused the Wyatt rebellion?

The Wyatt rebellion broke out for a variety of reasons. It is difficult to get to the heart of the causes due to the unreliability of the historical evidence surrounding the events; for instance, contemporary propaganda or varying motives of the rebels. Despite this, it is easy to establish three main causes of the rebellion: political, economic and religious motives.

For some of the rebels, as with most of the Tudor risings, religion would have been a driving force. Fears of the revival of the Catholic faith in England among those who championed the Protestant faith were perpetuated by fears of the Spanish marriage producing an heir, signifying the long term return of Catholicism. Regional leaders of the four-pronged risings had Protestant sympathies and there is no evidence of Catholic leaders at all in the rebellion. Moreover, the only area where the conspiracy had turned into revolt was Kent which was in itself a religiously radical area. Also, Wyatt had received advice from Ponet, the recently deprived Bishop of Winchester and, just as importantly, the only real evidence of violence once the rebels reached London was an attack on the property of Stephen Gardiner, the man who had replaced Ponet as Bishop of Winchester. Hoever, it is difficult to judge the significance of religion in the rising because religion was such a divine issue in England that both Mary and Wyatt wanted to play down its importance. Although, it was convenient for Mary to say that religion was a cause of revolution so she could persecute Protestants following the rebellion.

Historian David Loades has argued that ‘the real reasons which lay behind the conspiracy were secular and political’. The Wyatt rebellion may have broken out due to a factional struggle. Mary had recently come to power causing a shake up in office; those struggling to keep their place were worried that Mary’s marriage to Philip would create an alliance to Spain giving Spaniards favour in court. Furthermore, England’s alliance with Spain meant that England’s long-term independence was under threat and Britain’s nationalists favoured this. The English were fearful of a Spanish takeover and the House of Commons petitioned against the marriage. The marriage would link England to Spain possibly seeing the introduction of policies they didn’t want or need. Wyatt declared publically that he was only motivated by the marriage. However, this could simply be propaganda because in such a religiously divided nation an appeal to nationalism would have proved more effective.

There are also some economic reasons for the break out. Frustration at the economic decline of the textile industry and rising unemployment led to annoyances at the time. The decline of the textile industry in Kent and rising unemployment in the area since 1551 were unlikely to have been the trigger for the rebellion, however, these tensions may have been a factor enabling Wyatt to more easily win over supporters. This is supported by the fact that many of those who took part came from the Cranbrook area of Weald, an area that had suffered particularly from this crisis. On the other hand, it is difficult to be certain whether there was an economic pattern due to the array of trades shared by the rebels.

Overall, there are many different causes concerning the Wyatt rebellion including significant political and religious factors. It is, however, less likely that economics played a great part in the causation, instead this was a factor of its growth.

The failure of the Wyatt rebellion

The Wyatt rebellion failed for a combination of reasons including the actions of Mary (remaining calm and level-headed), the failings of Wyatt’s army and other factors.

The most significant reason as to why Wyatt’s rebellion failed was the actions of the Queen. During the rebellion, Mary kept her cool and refused to leave London or call on the Spanish Imperial Guard for fear of alienating her people. Mary handled the situation in a very skilful manner; instead of moving from London and confronting the rebels, leaving London open to attack, she waited and forced the rebels to try to take the city. Meanwhile, she used the time to fortify the capital, again demonstrating her skills in a crisis. Deliberate destruction of the bridges over the Thames near the city and the deployment of the troops at Ludgate once she had discovered the plot thwarted Wyatt’s attempts to cross. Wyatt was forced to use London’s narrow streets, leaving him open to being trapped by armed Londoners that had been influenced by Mary’s propaganda and flattery. In addition, her persuasive and defiant speech to London helped lead to the defeat of Wyatt.

The support for Mary came from the Great Chain of Being leading to Wyatt’s defeat. There was little support for the rebellion due to the prevailing belief that the Queen was chosen by God; loyalty to the Queen took precedence over concern about Mary marrying a foreigner (Philip of Spain). Those in the Midlands did not want to commit treason, leaving Wyatt with a force of just 140 men from there. Further loyalty to the Queen meant that the ‘uprisings’ in the West Country were also a failure as few gave the support needed for the rebellion’s success.

Despite these, the actions of Wyatt do hold some significance in explaining his own defeat. Secrecy was a major issue. When the Imperial Ambassador found out about the plot, he immediately told Stephen Gardner, who started questioning members of the conspiracy; from this moment, the rebellion was destined to fail because Wyatt began to panic and rushed into acting on the plot months too early. The rebellion started in the worst month in terms of weather – January. The roads that they had planned to use to transport both men and equipment had become unusable due to rain. Carriages and equipment therefore had to be left behind.

Wyatt himself made two mistakes. In at least two instances her delayed, instead of moving quickly into London. This gave the Queen a chance to prepare herself and fortify the capital.

Of all the rebellions in the Tudor period, it could be argued that the Wyatt rebellion was the most threatening. However, it failed due to a combination of poor leadership, decision making and co-ordination, along with the rebels having no clear aims and objectives (some wanted to control Mary, whilst others aimed to remove her from the throne). However, despite being the most threatening (due to how close they actually came to the monarch), it was one of the least successful since Mary still continued to reign and married Philip meaning that none of the rebel’s objectives and demands were ever met.

To what extent were the religious developments put in place during the reign of Mary I significant, in light of those of the rest of the Tudor period?

To a certain extent, Mary I’s religious changes were significant in that she managed to alter the country in the five years that she held the crown. She did not aspire to satisfy anyone, but, dedicatedly aimed to revert England to Catholicism in order to honour her mother and follow her true faith.

Mary’s changes do hold some significance in that she completely wiped out the changes made by her predecessors, since Henry VIII began the English Reformation. Furthermore, her reign was significant because she burned roughly 300 heretics, set up grammar schools and began visitations. She has been described as one of the ‘most evil women in history’, but without her drastic actions her changes would not have been as effective, and, therefore, significant.

However, in failing to address the gentry, her alterations lacked success as they were some of the most powerful people in Tudor England and were, for the majority, Protestant. Also, since Mary’s changes were in moving completely back to Catholicism, which was essentially nothing new, her changes were debatably less significant than other religious developments in the period. Most significantly though, she died childless after only five years in power (in 1558); perhaps, if Mary had lived longer or had a surviving child heir, her reforms would have been more influential and lasting.

A more significant development in religion was the reformation put in place by Henry VIII. It was Henry’s need for a divoce that made him break from Rome and the papacy and without this need, Henry probably would not have made any changes since he was truly Catholic at heart. There were no religious changes before Henry, so, his reformation was pivotal in English religious history. Furthermore, it was the changes he made that were revolutionary and shocking at this point, making them significant. The Act of Restraint of Appeals and the Act of Restraint of Annates stopped payments and appeals to Rome, and the Act of Supremacy removed papal powers in England and Wales which were Protestant in doctrine and, therefore, were radical changes to English religion.

The second most significant religious developments in the period were the changes made by Elizabeth I because her changes represented a breakthrough in religious tolerance. This tolerance is probably one strong reason as to why religion has survived as it was; Elizabeth established the Anglican Church which is still in place today. The fact that she combined religious doctrine from both Protestantism and Catholicism allowed believers from both religions to find a middle ground upon which neither had too many conflicts because the religion that she established was ambiguous enough to incorporate significant aspects of both.

In contrast to this, Edward VI almost completely established the Protestant faith for the first time in England. During Edward’s reign, a whole new liturgy was written by Cranmer and the last remaining pieces of Catholicism were dissolved. Edward dissolved the chantries and, in removing them, he made the statement that Protestantism was now taking over. Edward changed the face of religion; he transformed the image of the churches and removed Latin, suggesting that he was a key figure in bringing about religious reform in the Tudor period. However, he, like Mary, died young and these changes did not last long in the wake of his death.

The European Reformation holds less significance than any of the changes implemented by the monarchs because powers outside of England could not have changed religious doctrine without the consent of the monarchs and is, therefore, less significant in affecting change in the period. However, it is not insignificant because European reformers such as Martin Luther gave Henry the ideas and the means for reformation that allowed him to break from Rome and the papacy. Furthermore, the European Reformation had a large effect during the reign of Elizabeth I. Marian Exiles would have influenced Elizabeth’s tolerance towards Protestantism because she was receiving pressure from Protestants that were expecting change from a fundamentally Protestant monarch.

Other religious developments in the period include religious grievances; however, these were probably the least significant factor affecting religious change during that time. Religious grievances were possibly responsible for encouraging monarch’s religious changes and possibly the monarchs took into account the views of the people. Nevertheless, to all intents and purposes, the people had no real power to change religious doctrine.

In conclusion, Mary’s religious changes, though significant from some points of view, lacked both success and importance in the grand scheme of things. In understanding religious developments at the time and their great effect on modern society, Henry and Elizabeth’s changes were the most pivotal.

‘Elizabeth was justified and correct to execute Mary Stuart on the grounds of the threat she posed to the Queen.’ Discuss. – Short A-Level History Style Essay

Mary Stuart, more commonly known as Mary Queen of Scots, was believed to be the legitimate heir to the English crown presenting a threat to the Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Mary Stuart, being under threat from Protestants in Scotland, travelled to England in 1568 seeking help and protection.

When Mary arrived in England, Elizabeth had several options; Elizabeth could have embraced Mary as the cousin that she was, let her roam England, send her back to Scotland, put her on trial for Darnley’s murder or send her into exile. However, all of these options presented drawbacks. To have embraced a controversial Catholic Queen as her cousin, Elizabeth would have risked angering Protestants even if committed Protestants were only still a small minority in Elizabeth’s reign. Whilst Catholicism maintained its hold on many English people, the threat was nonetheless existent. Mary also posed a threat roaming free in England due to the potential trouble she could cause and both this option and sending her back to Scotland meant putting Mary in danger that Elizabeth could have been blamed for. However, providing support for Mary to return to Scotland with would put Elizabeth under threat of losing her throne due to Mary’s claim. Furthermore, Mary could gain foreign support if sent into exile and there was no evidence to put a fellow Queen on trial. This left Elizabeth no choice but to imprison her for nineteen years; despite the many plots made against Elizabeth, it is debated whether Elizabeth was right to execute her on the grounds of the threat she posed to the Queen.

Theoretically, English Catholics supported Mary, however in practice they actually stood by their Queen. Elizabeth offered stability and prosperity to England, not forgetting the obvious patriotism of the time; even devout Catholics would rather see a Protestant English monarch than a Scottish Catholic on the throne. Mary was not necessarily a threat to Elizabeth; most English Catholics were horrified by plots to assassinate Elizabeth. Furthermore, these plots never worked. The papal Bull was too late to give moral courage to Catholic conspirators involved in the Northern Rebellion. The rebellion of the Northern earls was not really a threat as it was easily put down due to the lack of foreign support. The real threat to Elizabeth was Spain, not Mary, and initially Spain had reason to fear Mary’s accession to the throne because of the French-Scottish alliance. Due to this, Spain was unlikely to overthrow Elizabeth to put Mary on the throne. Additionally, Mary was not likely to gain the support simply due to the fact that Mary was involved in scandals, was utterly discredited and was hated in Scotland. She had been excluded from the throne by Henry VIII making any possible accession more unlikely. On the surface, Mary appeared to not be a threat because she was imprisoned and Elizabeth’s reluctance to deal decisively with her suggests that she had her doubts about the extent of her threat.

An alternative view is that Elizabeth was justified and correct to execute Mary Stuart on the grounds of the threat she posed to the Queen. The most significant threat that Mary posed to Elizabeth, was the threat of her accession. She had an unimpeachable claim to the throne; her marriage to Darnley made this even stronger. Elizabeth had no heir, and she refused to name one – this led to an unsettled accession and strengthened Mary’s position as an heir. According to Catholics, Elizabeth was illegitimate. Since Mary was a Catholic, Catholics abroad or in England might seek to enforce Mary’s claim and as such was seen as the root of the Catholic threat. There were still may Catholics living in England during Elizabeth’s reign; committed Protestants were still only a small minority. Moreover, the excommunication of Elizabeth was worrying. The government did not know how Catholics would respond, and the possibility of Mary’s accession exacerbated the situation. Various plots centred on overthrowing Elizabeth and putting Mary on the throne; if it wasn’t for Elizabeth’s spy, Walsingham, it is unsure how far those plots could have gone.

To conclude, Elizabeth was justified and correct to execute Mary Stuart on the grounds of the threat she posed to the Queen. Mary had previously been accused of murder and had a scandalous past; during Elizabeth’s reign, the government felt compelled to pass the ‘Bond of Association’ in 1484-5 to protect the Queen’s life. Whilst there is undoubtedly question surrounding the issue of whether Mary or her followers would have ever achieved their goal of killing the Queen, Elizabeth rightly protected her own safety by eliminating the threat.